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Author Archives: carrielassiter

About carrielassiter

I was born and raised in East Africa. I would like to share some of my childhood experiences with you.

Adirondack Chairs

Time is slipping away from me. I’ve had some thoughts tumbling about in my noggin and although they are not about Kenya, this seemed like an appropriate place to capture a couple of them.

There’s just something about an Adirondack chair. I sat in a robins-egg-blue one a few days ago under the shade of a massive oak tree. The gentle, shaded downward slope of the hill where I sat disappeared into a hedge of wildflowers and rose again on the other side covered in orderly rows of vineyards. I breathed deep and felt the peace and rest settle gently on me. And then I remembered.

Years ago I felt the chaos hedging in. My firstborn son was on the tail end of the toddler phase where every little thing required lawyer-worthy negotiation skills. My younger son was in a stage of separation anxiety where he screamed like he’d lost an appendage if I moved out of his line of sight. We were also caring for my husband’s grandfather who had vascular dementia. I felt frazzled pretty much always. As I sat in my MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) meeting, I felt it. I had only a few minutes to inhale breakfast before they would call me to pick up the hysterical child from the kids’ room because he was positive I would disappear off the planet if he couldn’t see me. As I walked out to pick him up, I saw a table of merchandise for sale. A simple shirt brought me to tears. It was brown, long-sleeved with a tiny picture and message in light blue print. An Adirondack chair and the words, “Be still”. I felt the tears bunch up in a lump in my throat and sting the back of my eyes. I knew we couldn’t afford it. I walked away quickly and picked up my screaming little guy and then I went right back to that table and bought the shirt.

It’s funny how some things carry such power. It’s just a chair. But it reminds me that when I’m wading through the thick of it, there is Someone greater than me who knows the big-picture plan for my life. He wants to fight for me and my part is to just be still.

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Posted by on June 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Back In Kenya!

It was a little rough getting here with delayed flights, diverted flights, hours of sitting on tarmac and miscommunications. But we made it!!

It’s always so great to be back. I love sharing a country and people I love so much with people who haven’t had the honor of experiencing it. As my family and our friends come here and share in this together, it thrills me that they are beginning to love and embrace this place and this culture that is so deeply embedded in me.

There is a peacefulness about being here and sipping chai and using my rusty language skills and seeing familiar faces and smelling the distinct smell of a jacaranda tree growing in the rich, red soil.

I’ve been using Facebook and Instagram to drop photos, so there won’t be many here because the WiFi is a little spotty.

One of the Kenyan staff members summed me up well today. She said, “When I see you, I can see an American. But to interact with you, I can clearly see that inside the biggest part of your heart is Kenyan.” Pretty much.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Family Trips

We are in countdown mode over here in the Lassiter family. Each of us is headed into our last week of the school year. Our next Kenya trip is getting closer and closer. As I thought about our family and the trips we enjoy taking, I realized that travel and adventure has been instilled in me from a young age. This picture shows how our family traveled when we were in Kenya. We would all pile on the Honda 185 and head off to wherever we needed to go. It didn’t last long. As you can imagine, a couple growing kids and great distances and limited luggage space aren’t conducive to a motorcycle as a reliable mode of family transportation. This bike did serve my dad faithfully for many years, though.

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Posted by on May 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Ngoto Carrie

 

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That title is Maa for “Mother of Carrie”. It’s nearly Mother’s Day here in the good old U.S. of A.  My mom: She’s kind of a big deal.  I think an entire book could be written about life in Africa from her perspective.  It would be a fascinating and hilarious story.  But it’s WAAAY too much for a blog.  So I thought I’d share just a few things I learned from being raised by my mom in Kenya.  I learned that wherever you are, whether it’s where you thought you would be or wanted to be or not, you can find purpose. She wasn’t sure she wanted to live in Africa.  After all, she has an allergy to the sun (big itchy hives) and to dust and she hates, HATES bugs and snakes. But she was a thousand percent positive she wanted to marry this boy who really, really wanted to go to Africa.  She went about the business of learning to make a comfortable home and loving the people around her there in the midst of the blazing sun and the dusty landscape. Her creativity seemed boundless.  She could sew anything.  A tablecloth that went to the floor on all sides with a different scene on each side so that my brother and I had a fort to play in.  A Raggedy Ann sleeping bag with attached pillow.  Dolls. Dresses. Bathing suits. Ladies’ -ahem- *delicates. Stuffed animals. Baby clothes. Curtains upon curtains upon curtains.  She sewed for us and for our neighbors and for the Maasai babies and for other missionaries. She cooked a LOT.  But she didn’t cook for the sake of cooking.  She made meals for countless others to share at our table.  In a place where the nearest grocery store was 8 hours away and our garden was regularly raided by baboons, she managed to put together incredible meals for friends and strangers. It was my Dad’s birthday while he was camping and building our new house (another story for another day).  She drove us  out to the work site, set up camp, and proceeded to bake a pineapple upside down cake in a dutch oven Boy Scout style (buried in a pit lined with hot coals). It was DELICIOUS! Many, many people were welcomed and nourished, body and soul, at our table.  She taught me to love and laugh and serve.  She taught me that the best way to learn something new is to just start doing it. I know her life was not perfect and it was not always easy.  I know there were days she thought about how much easier life would have been if she was not there.  But then she pulled herself together with her deep faith and her firm determination. She chose to love and serve and laugh a lot. There are millions of moms in this world.  I got the very best one for me.  Thank you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!

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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Creature Comforts

This weekend we spent some time with the team that we’re leading to Kenya this summer.  My mom conducted the training for the team to prepare us for the work we’ll be doing.  As she and my dad shared a couple stories about their time living in Kenya, I started thinking about all the obstacles they faced.  There were a LOT!  When they built our house in Tiamanangien in the Loita Hills, my dad consulted several experts and managed to get indoor plumbing!  Using gravity flow, the pipes ran straight from a stream into a huge metal tank and then to our house, into our kitchen sink, bathroom tub & sink and toilet (our Maasai community thought we were pretty disgusting for wanting to do our “business” IN our house).  Since the water came straight from a fast-moving stream, there was no running hot water.  “Necessity is the mother of invention” as they say.  Heating water on the stove used too much gas.  I’m not sure who is responsible for this brilliant invention.  I’ll have to ask my dad.  I am thankful for all the nice warm baths I got to take as a result of their ingenuity, though.  This barrel would be filled with river water using a 5-gallon jerry can, the fire stoked to blazing and then it would simmer for hours until it was hot enough for our purposes.  One large pot of hot water + cold water from the faucet into the tub = a pleasantly warm bath!  This is also how we did dishes.

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Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

The Hills are Alive with the Sounds

I struggled with this post because I am not sure there are words to adequately capture the sounds of my childhood.  In fact, I am sure there are not.  This morning, the melancholy song of a dove transported me across a lot of years and a really lot of miles.  I closed my eyes and I could hear it: The soundtrack of my childhood.  Cold water tumbling over rocks in the shallow riverbed.  Slow, deep croaking of Colobus monkeys calling to each other early each morning.  The steady, unique whistle of the herd boys taking the cows out of the village for the day and the lowing response from the cows in recognition.  Cowbells jangling cacophonously against the harmonious sounds of morning. The sounds in the night could turn my blood to ice.  A hyena calling out its gravely whoop into the darkest night caused my bones to liquefy and my heart to race.  A leopard’s quiet bark huffed out brought out the thundering of my pulse.  Sometimes we would go camping and hear the sounds of hippos grumbling and groaning to one another. The kind of sounds that made me realize how inadequate the walls of a tent were for protection.  I didn’t know it then.  Then it was just the sounds of the day and the night.  It was just background noise. Now I know.  I know that I am privileged to have had the days of my childhood played to such a unique soundtrack. The whispering leaves and the shushing river and the millions of birds and the grunts of exotic wildlife and the hum of  a nomadic tribe.  Every once in a while, I hear a simple melody like the gurgle of a dove in the morning, and I remember. And I am grateful.

 

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Posted by on May 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

SEVEN YEARS!?!

You guys! How can it be seven years since my last post? My baby was not even in Kindergarten yet, and now he’s a handsome, talented, witty 6th grader.  And the older one? Equally handsome, charming, and he’s wrapping up his first year of high school!

A lot has changed over the past 7 years. I thought about trying to make my comeback post be amazing!  After all, I have had a L-O-N-G time to think about it.  But then I decided that there will probably only be about 4 of you reading this (Hi Bill), so I might as well just dive right in with a mediocre post.  I don’t know if my original intent will be the primary focus of the stories here.  There will be childhood memories, but there might be other musings as well.

This all started out as a blog to share with you the significance Kenya holds in my heart, I’ll share something great!  My family got to go and experience Kenya together in 2016.  It wasn’t the first time we were there together, and we are going again this summer. But that time in 2016, the boys were old enough to appreciate so much about it.  We spent time in the slums, in the malls, in the game park, at the coast, and at good old Rift Valley Academy.  They got a teensy taste of my childhood and it was fantastic!

Here we are with Elizabeth, our sponsored girl, in our super hero VBS maks.

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Posted by on April 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

 
 
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